U.S. President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin held a second, previously undisclosed conversation during a dinner for G20 leaders at a summit earlier this month in Germany, a White House official confirmed on Tuesday. The two leaders held a formal two-hour bilateral meeting on July 7 in which Trump later said Putin denied allegations that he directed efforts to meddle in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. The White House official did not say how long the second meeting took place or what was discussed. read more
Two organizations representing the U.S. health insurance industry just called a new provision of the Senate Republicans' health care proposal "simply unworkable in any form" and warned that it would cause major hardship, especially for middle-class people with serious medical problems. ... In a publicly posted letter to Senate leaders, the two groups focused their attention on an amendment that would undermine the Affordable Care Act's protections for people with pre-existing conditions. The amendment, crafted by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), would allow insurers to resume sales of policies that leave out key benefits, such as prescription drugs or mental health. More important, it would allow insurers to discriminate among customers based on medical status, charging higher premiums or denying policies altogether to people with existing medical problems ― from the severe, like cancer, to the relatively mild, like allergies. read more
Senators Jerry Moran (KS) and MIke Lee (UT) have jointly announced they will both vote against a procedural move needed to move Trumpcare to the floor for debate. This effectively kills Trumpcare 3.0. The Senators made the joint announcement so neither one would be blamed for being the vote that killed the repeal. Expect more Senators to join the bandwagon, now that the pressure is off. With Sens. Rand Paul, R-Ky., and Susan Collins, R-Maine, already coming out against advancing the healthcare bill, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., no longer has the votes he needs to have least 50 of 52 Republicans on board.
Tim Donnelly, Death and Taxes: Because we are all being punished for our sins by living in a Twilight Zone episode where we are forced to relive the 2016 election until the earth crashes into the sun, Jill Stein is back as part of the Russia probe too. The Green Party candidate and false prophet of the far left is now being investigated for any connections to Trumpworld and its contacts with Russia. The Senate Judiciary Committee this week asked for any records connecting Donald Trump Jr. and other staffers had with Russia before and after that now infamous meeting to gain incriminating information about Hillary Clinton during the campaign. According to Bloomberg, the committee is expanding its investigation to include dozens of other people, from Russian President Vladimir Putin and other Russians all the way down to Stein. read more
Sen. John McCain's blood clot above his left eye is associated with a primary brain tumor known as a glioblastoma, according to a statement released Wednesday by Mayo Clinic. The 80-year-old McCain, R-Ariz., underwent cranial surgery on Friday. ... A written statement from McCain's office reiterated that the six-term senator, 2008 Republican presidential nominee and former prisoner of war in Vietnam is in "good spirits" as he recovers at his home in Arizona.
An American-based employee of a Russian real estate company took part in a June 2016 Trump Tower meeting between a Russian lawyer and Donald Trump Jr., bringing to eight the number of known participants at the session that has emerged as a key focus of the investigation of the Trump campaign's interactions with Russians. Ike Kaveladze's presence was confirmed by Scott Balber, an attorney for Emin and Aras Agalarov, the Russian developers who hosted the Trump-owned Miss Universe pageant in 2013. Balber said Kaveladze works for the Agalarovs' company and attended as their representative. In 2000, Kaveladze's actions as the head of a Delaware company called International Business Creations were the subject of a government investigation into how Russians and other foreigners were able to launder large amounts of money through U.S. banks. According to the GAO, Kaveladze opened 236 bank accounts in the U.S. for corporations formed in Delaware on behalf of mostly Russian brokers. read more
A combative President Trump, reflecting growing pressure from the FBI's investigation of possible Russian ties to the campaign, issued a tweetstorm on Saturday claiming a president has the "complete power to pardon." ... The 10-tweet blasts over a two-hour period began at 6:33 a.m. with a tweet complaining about an "intelligence leak" from The Washington Post about Attorney General Jeff Sessions regarding the purported contents of his meeting with the Russian ambassador, based on U.S. communication intercepts. He also blasted the "Failing New York Times," the same newspaper to which he gave an expansive, exclusive interview earlier in the week ... Only one tweet was benign, regarding his planned visit Saturday to Norfolk, Va., to commission the aircraft carrier USS Gerald R. Ford. read more
About one in eight people who voted for President Donald Trump said they would not do so again after witnessing Trump's tumultuous first six months in office, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll of 2016 voters. ... "If I had to walk around wearing a T-shirt saying who I voted for, I may have voted differently," said Beverly Guy, 34, a Trump voter who took the poll in July. If the election were held today, Guy said she would vote for Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson.
Justine Damond, aged 40, was shot dead in Minneapolis about 11:30 pm local time on Saturday after two officers responded to a report of a possible assault. Her stepson Zach Damond, 22, said she called police after hearing a noise in the alleyway near their house in the suburb of Fulton. Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges said in a statement that she was "heartsick and deeply disturbed by the incident". "I'm seeking answers to the questions we all have, and will make sure to keep the communication flowing," she said. Ms Hodges said she understood the police body cameras and squad camera, which were introduced to the Minneapolis Police Department last year, were not switched on when the shooting occurred. The two officers involved have been placed on paid administrative leave, which is standard procedure.
David A. Graham: It's a typically hot and sticky July in Washington, but in some ways it feels just like late March all over again. A health-care bill backed by President Trump has collapsed in dramatic fashion, and Trump knows just who to blame: anyone but himself. The latest failures, first of a Senate Republican bill to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act and then the expected defeat of a subsequent, last-ditch effort to simply repeal the law and worry about a replacement later on, offer a vivid picture of Trump's leadership style, his strategic and tactical missteps, and why he can't seem to push any of his priorities through in Washington, despite holding majorities in both the House and Senate. read more